This is time we celebrate the birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Over the span of a little more than 50 years Dr. King went from a civil rights leader to a larger than life hero. And now thanks to people from his past coming forward, Broadway plays like “The Mountain Top,” and most recently the feature film “Selma,” Dr. King is becoming more and more human in the eyes of even Black Americans.
I remember when the movie Barbershop was released in 2010. A lot of people were up in arms about Cedric the Entertainer’s character saying “Rosa Parks didn’t do nothin’ but sit her Black ass down,” and “Martin Luther King was a ho.”
I was so upset that I refused to see the movie and to this day, I still haven’t seen. A co-worker of mine doesn’t want to see Selma because she didn’t like the fact that they deal with Dr. King’s infidelity.
But I have a decided to start honoring Dr. King’s memory by concentrating less on him as man and more on the movement he led.
If we concentrated less about what he did and more on what motivated him to do the things he did, we’d have a better understanding of what made him the great leader that he was.
You see, Dr. King didn’t do it for the monuments and the statues. He didn’t do it for the movie and stage play portrayals of his life. He certainly didn’t do it for the vine. And he didn’t do it in hopes of having a national holiday commemorating his birth.
Dr. King did it because he was fed up with injustice. He was motivated by not only the injustices he suffered but by the injustice suffered by black people all over this country.
He had a motive.
He had a mission, too. He challenged this country to make good on the promises made by the Constitution.
He had a message. He consistently preached non-violent protest. But he was very clear about wanting to see change in his lifetime. He was tired of waiting for justice.
He also had a movement. He relentlessly used his team, the media, particularly black newspapers and yes, Black Radio, to mobilize thousand upon thousands to keep moving forward and not stopping until there was an end to segregation.
Until his dying day he never gave up.
He left a template for each of us who care about change. But before we can march, we have to take a step, and before we can take a step, we must stand. Not all at once. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing. Work with in your talent, your gift, your passion.
Whether it’s registering people to vote, protesting the killings of young black men at the hands of the police, volunteering to teach math or English to under-served children or adults, whatever you can do is needed.
We get caught up then burned out when we do something because everyone is so doing it, or to get more likes and followers.
The Civil Rights Movement was one of the most monumental events in the history of this nation. But it’s gone now. It’s good to look back but it’s never good to stay behind.
We love Dr. King and his legacy so much that we’ve turned him into a myth, this perfect super hero of man who had the power to change the course of history. That’s not true. And it’s not fair to him or the thousands of people who were part of the Civil Rights Movement.
But worse than that, when we turn him into a super human, it makes us think that we couldn’t possibly have what it takes to make the kind of changes that need to be made in this country. We think we have to wait for another Dr. King to lead us out of the dire state much of Black America is in.
We can’t wait.
Do what you do and do it well. Make a difference where you are. Choose your motive, choose your mission, choose your message, choose your movement. Don’t mess around and miss the moment. The time is now.